Friday, December 19, 2008

Cigar box guitar build #1

O.k. here we go!  This
 is my first cigar box guitar build and I thought some of you might be interested in the very simple processes and steps I took to complete this project for under $20 and in about 8 hours (I know, longer than you would like to spend, but I'm a slow learner).    The first thing I had to do was figure out where to get the boxes, after purchasing a lot of around 8 on ebay I got the bright idea to stop by the local cigar afficionado shop and low and behold!  They had stacks of boxes just sitting on the floor!  Doing my best not to be too greedy I grabbed 4 or 5 that looked like they had potential.  I ended up deciding on the padron box.  It was nice and long and fairly shallow and surprisingly a lot of these boxes are made out of some pretty nice woods like, cedar, oak, and mahogany.  It had Farley scribed childishly on the front by the shop as these were a ordered by a customer, so the instrument is aptly named Farley.
  Now for the neck.  After consulting a ton of articles, and seeing cigar box guitar after cigar box guitar with nicely done fret jobs, truss rods, transplanted necks from acoustic guitars, and on and on, I decided that the first one had to be SIMPLE!  I headed down to the local "store in a box" and picked up a 2 foot 1" x 2" piece of maple.  I cut a 1/4" groove out of it where the lid of the box sits when on the guitar.  Well I'm guessing its more like a constantly varying depth relatively near a 1/4 of an inch.  I had bought a coping saw and being a complete greenhorn thought I would be using that on the maple.  Ha!  I would think that I have some concept of how hard maple is but I apparently do not!  So after some him-hawing around I threw caution to the wind and got out the sawzall.  What can I say, it's the only saw i got!  After this was completed I cut a little out of the headstock so the tuners would fit properly.  An old Harmony Stratocaster copy provided the tuners and the 1/4 inch input jack.  
  One of the coolest things about this guitar is the pickup.  Simply put it is a transducer from Radio Shack bought for $2.99.  (If you go to you can find plans and parts numbers for anything in this article).  I have to admit at first I was skeptical, I mean, for $2.99 is this thing even going to make sound?  The answer is hell yes!  When I plug it into my Ampeg Reverberocket and give it a little volume, BLAMMO!  I get a dirty gritty, slap your  momma blues tone!  
  For the nut and the bridge I simply went to the hardware store and sifted through the bins for a bolt that could hold the strings. They are completely loose and held on by the string tension.  Drill a few hoes in the end to run the strings through and tune her up!  I tuned this to an open E tuning of E B E, using a .42, .32, .22 gauge acoustic guitar strings.  
  Now I had never built an instrument in my life, but this was a tremendous amount of fun and I am starting a four string in the morning!  I'm telling you wether its just out of curiosity or your a serious blues player, you build one of these and your going to enjoy it!  

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Cold Winter Morning

     It was a cold winter morning...  How many novels have you read that started with some cliched one liner, thrown at you as if you were the only semi-attractive person sitting in some seedy small town dive?  Why does the author feel it necessary to oversimplify?  I'm guessing its his way of opening the door.  I mean, there have been millions if not billions of people who know cold winter mornings.  Maybe the next few lines could read, "U could still see the gray-blue ash in the air.  Mingled with the snow on the ground it was almost as if someone had taken all that beautiful white and dirtied it forever".  So what do you do?  Hopefully for the authors sake, you walk through the door.
     Let's talk grassroots, with so many people going in so many directions, how can you create something that will reach them all on a personal level.  Mind you I'm not talking about a product or advertisement, I'm talking about creating something, a book, a song, a work of art.  There are those who seek these things out to the point we become encompassed, even a little obsessed (sadly I fall in the latter).  I get so caught up in searching out new music and media that suddenly I look up and the clock tells me that 3 hours have gone by and I haven't gotten any real work done.  But the majority of the masses are satisfied with the mass media delivery system belching out Hannity and Colmes and eating greasy burgers while listening to Nickelback.  How does this happen?  Easy.  Turn on your TV.  Everything you need is right there, telling you what's hot and what's not, who's who and who's through, what drug you need to control your overactive bladder and which pop star is using what acne product...I could go on and on, but I think I got the point across.
     Now don't get me wrong, I'm no shining star of purity and white light.  I have my shows I love to watch, my favorite burger joint, and an overactive bladder (not really, but it sounds good).  So what's the point of all this?  Well hopefully you will see beyond the giant advertising billboards pulled up in front of you like a smokescreen and start looking to your local community to find inspiration, and maybe even create something to contribute to the ever growing wealth of human civilization.